Economy’s Performance Points Toward Slowing Pace Of Growth In 2019

The U.S. economy picked up in November, although its pace of growth has started to slow. The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.2 percent in November to 111.8, following a 0.3 percent decline in October and a 0.6 percent increase in September.

“The LEI increased slightly in November, but its overall pace of improvement has slowed in the last two months,” says Ataman Ozyildirim, director of economic research at The Conference Board. “Despite the recent volatility in stock prices, the strengths among the leading indicators have been widespread. Solid GDP growth at about 2.8 percent should continue in early 2019, but the LEI suggests the economy is likely to moderate further in the second half of 2019.”

The Conference Board’s Coincident Economic Index, a measure of current economic activity, also increased in November, rising 0.2 percent to 104.9, following a 0.1 percent increase in October and a 0.2 percent increase in September. Its Lagging Economic Index, an indicator representing changes that come only after the economy has begun to follow a particular trend, ticked up 0.4 percent in November to 106, after an increase of 0.5 percent in October and a 0.2 percent decrease in September.

The Conference Board’s indexes are composites of leading, coincident and lagging economic indicators designed to highlight peaks and troughs in the business cycle that could be obscured by volatility within individual components. The LEI is comprised of 10 indicators. These include average weekly hours, manufacturing; average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance; manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials; the Institute of Supply Management Index of New Orders; manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders; building permits, new private housing units; stock prices, 500 common stocks; the Leading Credit Index; the interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds; and average consumer expectations for business conditions.

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